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Where's the evidence? (1 Timothy 6:1)

All slaves should show full respect for their masters so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching. (1 Timothy 6:1)

Some time ago there was a song out with a line that read, "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" The song was not talking about evidence such as how often you went to church or even how often it read your Bible and prayed. It was not even talking about whether or not you had some leadership responsibility in the church.

It was talking about how you lived your life. The "evidence" was the extent to which you showed love to others, made morally right choices and showed respect to those in authority.

It's this last piece of "evidence" that Paul has in mind here as he addresses slaves. You might be tempted to ignore this verse because it seems irrelevant to you, but it contains an important principle.

(In passing, people sometimes use verses like this to discredit the Bible saying they imply that slavery is OK. That's untrue and fails to take into account the place and nature of slavery under Roman rule. You can study this further for yourself).

Paul's focus here is not on slavery itself but on the witness of the church. The verse deals with how slaves should relate to their masters and Paul's direction is that slaves treat their masters with "full respect... so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching".

Quite simply, Paul is saying that the Christian attitude to authority is one of respect and submission. If slaves fail to show these attributes then their life is not in agreement with their beliefs and their masters will be less inclined to view Christianity favorably.

When we understand this, we see the relevance of this verse for us in the way we treat those who have authority over us. Whether it's your teachers, tutors, sports coaches and referees, employers... and even (if you're still living at home) your parents! All these people should have an abundance of evidence that you're a Christian by the respect you show them as they exercise authority over you.

They will notice how you show respect by following instructions without argument. They'll hear it in the tone of voice you use when you speak to them. And they will see it in the way you show consideration for them and the tough job they have.

One final point. The power to live like this is not something you develop through trying harder. If you see this only as a command to be a respectful person you've forgotten the power of the transformation that occurs when we love and follow Jesus more fully.

When we fully bring ourselves under His authority, the willingness to submit to the authority of others comes as a natural consequence.

So don't just try harder" but submit to God and ask His Spirit to fill you. When you do this. no one who is a "master" over you will be surprised to learn that you are a Christian. They'll have the evidence.

Reflection

In what situations do you find it difficult to show respect to authority? What would God call you to do in these situations?